Saturday, October 20, 2007

Are the kids of today growing up too fast?

A number of very strange and rather shocking conversations between myself and an 8yo girl, the daughter of a family friend- let's call her Anni, occurred when they were visiting last week and I was absolutely stunned:
Topic 1: Fluoro pink is the thing to be seen in, said she.

"You know, you really should buy some fluoro pink. It's very popular these days." kicked off the first conversation. I think I was staring at Anni, mouth open half the time. Wait, what? Come again? I'm not trying to be elitist but it was shocking to realize how different 8yo girls a decade ago (aka moi) were from the kids of today. I think I was watching Sailor Moon and playing with yoyos in my tomboy jeans-and-Tshirt outfits.

Topic 2: She recommends Payless as the place to source your black flats.
Because Anni just got her first pair of blk ballet flats at Payless, she recommend I get mine there too (sorry hun, I thought, I've already got a few pairs too many...)

Topic 3: It's all about layering, dahling!
"I really like these- points at her plain long sleeved blk Tshirt - it's really good for layering. Because we're in Spring so it's still a bit cold. An outfit kind of like what I'm wearing now..." For your information, she wore a blue and white patterned mid thigh baby doll over the Tshirt, with blk leggings and those flats. By God, she's trendy for someone who's not even a tween yet! [The photo was the first example that came to mind, a tad bit old- Marc by Marc Jacobs SS06 RTW]

Topic 4
: What do you call them? Pencil jeans or skinny jeans?

Anni really really really wants a pair. Enough said. Apparently, I'm somewhat "uncool" because I don't own a pair. Does that mean I'm a nerd? Does it?

I sound terribly bitchy, don't I? I don't mean to, but I guess I still haven't gotten over our "enlightening" conversations yet. I say enlightening, in quotation marks no less, because it reflects the strength and power of advertising on the child and the tween in my opinion. Ever since a few years ago, it's suddenly become all about the tween- they're a huge market because they're aware of what's hot (and what's not), they understand the importance of one's appearance... but don't have a job yet. So to me, what the tween does is spend extravagantly on luxury goods with their parents' no limit credit cards. I'm not against the concept of either spending lots on luxury goods or the use of my mom's credit card per se (God knows I do it a lot)... it's just that if they're spending so much at a stage when they're not truly aware of the value of money, how much debt and card bills are they going to run up as an adult? And are they really aware of what's good quality, what's worth the price... and what's not? Is this in fact going to be the catalyst that will eventually lead to a First World debt crisis? [Shhh- I know I know. I'm being melodramatic...]
Since everything is growing so much more accessible, and as children's fashion is becoming more like adult's fashion just shrunken in size, kids seem to be growing up so fast- at a glance, they appear to look better, act wiser- in an almost adult like manner- and it's such a foreign idea to me. Sure I was a city girl (no doubt I always will be) but I remember my childhood fondly- days spent in the local park playground, playing with the neighbor's kids and trying to beat the boys at handball during school recess and lunch. Anni seems to spend her days applying nail polish, reading numerous fashion magazines (she namedropped Harper's and Vogue at various points in time) and listening to Avril Lavigne and Gwen Stefani.

I don't know what to think.Are they being deprived of a childhood because of the commercialization, and materialization, of everything? Or are we simply redefining what childhood means?
Photo cred:, NYT, some blog I found through google

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